February 19, 1979 12:00 PM

Imagine Death Wish or Walking Tall in the hands of Walt Disney. Implausible as it may seem, this comedy (based on a true story) recalls both those cynical films, even if corruption is relatively benign in the Disney world of crime: There are no guns, vice or bad language. Recruited by the activist minister of the North Avenue Presbyterian Church, a spunky band of suburban housewives goes undercover to fight mob-run crime in their community. Amusingly inept at first, the ladies eventually triumph in a demo derby of a finale in which no one gets more than a bump on the noggin. Edward Herrmann (FDR in Eleanor and Franklin) is charmingly earnest as the preacher, but the best laughs are provided by loopy Barbara Harris and Laugh-In’s Ruth Buzzi, who attacks her cameo with maniacal glee. The film is an imaginative variation on the reliable Disney formula that ridicules, then vanquishes, evil; it’s reassuring to know good has new ways to triumph. (G)

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